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Mini-Feature: Apothecary (Experimental Black Metal)


Retorts about political correctness in black metal sometimes make the argument that the subgenre is inherently meant to make its listeners uncomfortable. This concept may not be entirely untrue, but being discerning in delivery is a factor not to be ignored. While it is easy to touch a nerve through, say, controversial symbolism, breathing life into a universe made of tortuously winding paths demands true talent. One-man underground artist Apothecary achieves exactly that. Not to be confused with Arkansas death-doom trio of the same name, this Apothecary is another example of an artist who has used his solo status to produce an almost overwhelming body of work. From his apparent start with 2017’s Whispers Unfolding, Apothecary’s approach to its master’s craft can be best described as abstract. Leaving all rules at the basement door, an unsettling roller coaster is commenced with no clear end in sight.

In Apothecary’s aptly-named follow-up Returning.., light atmosphere pulses through chords that occasionally venture off the trail of positivity. This idea is expanded on until a slow angst builds into the sense of doom that one might expect of black metal. The bloody lilly pads of the album’s visuals — artwork also being a product of the musician’s own doing — reflects the snippet of prose used to illuminate the all-instrumental contribution: “thy dream of blackened nights, this peril in the wake.. waking away, to feel.” Given Apothecary’s appropriate self-description as “a drifting pace,” it can be inferred that this is a prime soundtrack for shedding the anxiety of uncertain questions through a long walk in solitude.

Extended track “Night Rain” serves a similar purpose, taking a more muted tone before falling into a state of catatonic chaos, which ultimately fades to industrial noise.

Recently, Apothecary released A Mist Upon A Sacred Forest Floor, Beheld the Dark Flame via Psalm 99, who appears to have the origins of the mystery mastermind listed as Colorado on the Bandcamp page. This two-track cassette release is an increasingly layered yet polished take on the experimental ethos. A chime-like ringing sends shivers through the meandering guitars of “Archaic Specter,” while “passage I” prepares for a more corrosive demonic battle of personal proportions. With more conventional black metal vocals in tow, this contribution has the potential to speak to a variety of extreme metal connoisseurs.

And with the appeal of an atmospheric horror film, Apothecary is becoming adept at encouraging listeners to step right up and brace themselves for a disquiet ride.

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